Roseacre fracking opponents refused permission for Judicial Review
A campaign group representing residents in the Fylde village of Roseacre has been given a second opportunity to make its case after it failed in its bid to launch a Judicial Review against Lancashire County Council and Cuadrilla.
In June this year, Lancashire County Council approved Cuadrilla’s plans to install a monitoring array around the Roseacre village as part of its wider proposals to drill and frack up to four exploratory shale gas wells nearby.
Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) sought permission to challenge the decision by Judicial Review, claiming that it was flawed.
But, in September, RAG’s bid failed after the High Court ruled there were no grounds for a Judicial Review.
It has also emerged that it submitted its original application a day late, as reported in the Blackpool Gazette on 7 October 2015, although there was no mention of the refusal.
“None of the grounds of challenge is arguable”
Mr Justice SUPPERSTONE
RAG has now been granted an opportunity to have its case reconsidered and will appear before the High Court at an oral hearing on 22 October.
Matthew Sheppard from planning consultancy Turley Associates explains: “In this case, campaigners made a claim to challenge the planning approval with a Judicial Review, which a judge will have reviewed on the basis of the submitted papers. It appears the claim was refused.
“The campaigners have exercised their right to request that the decision be reconsidered at an oral hearing, and that right has been granted.
“The hearing, which could be expected to last only 30 minutes, is only to test for a second time, with a judge, whether the decision to refuse grounds for a Judicial Review was reasonable. It is not about planning merits.”
Evidence of democracy
It will come as a shock to some observers that, despite the High Court refusal to allow a Judicial Review to proceed, and the late submission of claim, campaigners are being given a second chance.
But Lee Petts, chief executive at the OESG and a Lancashire resident himself, says it’s a further demonstration of the democratic right to complain that’s enshrined in law: “If our planning laws were as draconian and undemocratic as it is sometimes suggested, there would be no second chance for campaigners opposed to Cuadrilla’s plans in Lancashire.
“As it is, our legal system recognises the need for decisions of this nature to be reached fairly, consistently and transparently – which is why applicants attempting to bring a Judicial Review, if refused, can apply to have the decision reconsidered.”
The legal basis
The legal basis for campaigners to have the refusal decision reconsidered stems from Part 54 of the Civil Procedure Rules, which states:
Permission decision without a hearing
(1) This rule applies where the court, without a hearing –
(a) refuses permission to proceed; or
(b) gives permission to proceed –
(i) subject to conditions; or
(ii) on certain grounds only.
(2) The court will serve its reasons for making the decision when it serves the order giving or refusing permission in accordance with rule 54.11.
(3) Subject to paragraph (7), the claimant may not appeal but may request the decision to be reconsidered at a hearing.
(4) A request under paragraph (3) must be filed within 7 days after service of the reasons under paragraph (2).
(5) The claimant, defendant and any other person who has filed an acknowledgment of service will be given at least 2 days’ notice of the hearing date.
(6) The court may give directions requiring the proceedings to be heard by a Divisional Court.
(7) Where the court refuses permission to proceed and records the fact that the application is totally without merit in accordance with rule 23.12, the claimant may not request that decision to be reconsidered at a hearing.